Labor laws are put into place to protect the different stakeholders in the labor market. With the increasing demand for labor, there is the need to have a clear guideline as given by law on how people within the labor market should be treated. Labor laws provide a guideline that is followed by both the employees and employers. An economy cannot thrive if the labor force is not a productive one; however, the labor force has to work in a conducive environment where the rights of each person are respected.
The law in New Jersey recognizes a child to be anybody below the age of 18 years. These are referred to as the minors, and the government has a role of protecting their rights as provided for in the bill of rights. Many employees take advantage of children especially those from poor families by engaging them in hard labor. The law therefore has got clear guidelines that protect the children in issues concerning child labor. The law does not only apply to employees but also on a family perspective since some parents take advantage over their children and indulge them in hard labor. “The child labor law, which is classified into three categories is intended to protect minors from working under hazardous conditions and also for long hours. The laws are in line with the International Labor Organization Laws addressing child labor”( http://lwd.dol.state.nj.us/labor/wagehour/lawregs/child_labor_law.html). According to the laws of the child set by the UN convention, a child should not be economically manipulated or exposed to work in jobs that affect their physical, mental spiritual, moral and social development negatively. The International Labor Organization has defined three areas that are the worst when it comes to child labor. The first category is exposing children to slavery of any form of slave labor ,which include child trafficking, forced labor and even recruiting children in the military. The second one is exposing children to pornography or prostitution and also involving children in illegal activities such as child trafficking. All these laws apply to anybody who is under the age of 18 years. The state of New Jersey has used the guidelines to come up with its child labor laws. The laws put a limit on the number of hours that minor have to work for and also restrictions on the kind of labor force that they can be engaged in. Any minor who is engaged is providing labor must have a certificate of employment or a special permit that allows him/her to work within the state. Employers who employ the children must have an employment certificate that makes them legible to employ the minors. All minors who work in the state must be given a 30 minutes break after working for every 5 hours. There are also other documents that have to be submitted before a minor can be involved in employment. Physical certification must be provided to the employer before a child can begin working. Personal information about the child must also be presented to the employer which also contains the age of the child. Different organizations and both governmental and non-governmental have been put into place to ensure that the child labor laws are implemented. One of the most vocal organizations whose effects are not only in New Jersey in other parts of the world is UNICEF. It is an organization of the UN that is involved in protection of children’s rights. The department of labor is also involved in protection of children rights associated with labor. The department has a hotline number that can be used to report any cases of child labor (Allito, Rosemary & Kevin 253).
The Child labor main goal in the state of New Jersey is to protect minors from exploitation by employers or forced and hard labor. The laws define the kind of labor that minors can be involved in. Employers are therefore able to draw the line between the kind of labor that they should give to children and that they cannot do. Minors cannot work the same way that the older people do work. In terms of working hours, no minor is supposed to work for more than 6 consecutive days in a week which employers have to comply with. The 30 minute break after every 5 hours of working is used for meals. The law is categorized according to different age groups, for minors between the age of 14 and 15 years, there are certain guidelines given which are followed during the school weeks. The minors in this age group are not supposed to work for more than 18 hours in a week, during school days they are not supposed to work for more than three hours. On Sundays and Saturdays when they are not in school they are not supposed to work for more than 8 hours. Children should not begin working before 7am and should not be at work after 7 pm.” During school holidays, minors in this age group are not supposed to work for more than 40 hours in a week. In a day, they should not work for more than 8 hours and not for more than six consecutive days in a pay week. In a school year, they are also not expected to start working before 7 am and are supposed to go beyond 7pm. For minors between the ages of 16 -17 years, the laws are slightly different. During the school weeks, they should not work for more than 40 hours in a wee and not more than 8 hours in a day. In a pay week, they are not expected to work for more than 6 days. They are supposed to start working after 6am and should not go beyond 11 pm. On Fridays and Saturdays they are not supposed to work past 12 am”( Allito, Rosemary & Kevin 134). The children are also expected to go through training before they commence on the job. The laws are provided for in the constitution and have to be implemented. The judiciary within New Jersey has the mandate of handling any cases that are related to child labor.
Historical Analysis of Child Labor Laws
The issue of Child Labor has got a long history; however it was in 1904 when The National Child Labor committee was established. It was the first lobby group whose struggles for fighting for the Child Labor were effective. In 1906, the first bill that was aimed towards regulating Child Labor was introduced by Senator Albert Beverage in congress. In 1919, the International Labor Organization fixed the minimum age for any person to be employed in any industry and the working hours. In 1924, the United States congress issued the states with amendment of a section of the US constitution which would enable the Congress to regulate Child Labor. Each state has its own laws that regulate child labor and these laws are guided by the United States Constitution. In the State of New Jersey children were mainly being exploited to work in the farms which with many of them failing to attend school. On governmental organizations and members of the congress have been on the frontline advocating for the Child labor laws.” The Federal Fair Standards Labor Bill which was passed in 24th October 1938 was also a significant breakthrough in making legislation that regulates child labor”(New Jersey Employment Law,76). The child labor law is an indicator that the growing demand for labor in US and especially the state of New Jersey needs to be controlled to ensure that people do not take advantage of the children. The state of New Jersey is an agricultural state, and there is the need to ensure that children are not exploited in the farms during school hours. The Labor law has been amended over time, but its goals still remain. Every child who is a minor need to acquire education and employees must not take advantage of poverty to employ the children even during school period. Parents must also approve and allow their children to be employed (Clinton, Ione & Taylor 73).
Advocacy and Practice
Just like any other legislation, the child labor law is faced by various challenges. There are parents who believe that their children should learn to be independent at an early age; they therefore engage them in employed labor without putting into consideration their education. Poverty among the citizens has also forced many children to work for more hours than stipulated by the law.”They need to generate income to cater for their basic needs. The high level of school dropout is also a challenge to this law. Many children who drop out of school end up being employed with a majority of them being drug addicts and in need for money to n buy drugs. Lack of political goodwill in implementing this law is also a major setback. When a law lacks the support of those in leadership positions, people do not take it seriously. Corruption is a challenge in implementing this law. The poor cannot employ minors and the rich are the biggest employees, children are employed to work in industries and work in risky environment”(Lanser & David 110-113). When such cases are reported to the authorities, no action is taken since the employees bribe those involved in implementing the law. Children continue being exploited, and their rights are ignored since people cannot speak out in fear of being harmed by those involved (Lanser & David 113).
Social workers have a key role to play in ensuring that they child labor law is fully implemented. Through the formation of organization of lobby groups that fight for the rights of the children, they are able to gain a voice and fight for children’s rights. Social workers can work together with the leaders in ensuring the children are protected from labor exploitation. The community also has a role since the law serves the society as whole and not few individuals. Social workers need to ensure that employers follow the law and all children are protected as stated in the child labor law.
Alito, Rosemary, and Kevin P. Duffy. New Jersey employment law. Newark, N.J.: New Jersey Law Journal Books, 2000. Print.
Clinton, Ione L., and Florence Taylor. Child labour: pamphlets.. .: ., 19341966. Print.
Lansner, David J.. Child abuse, neglect & the foster care system: effective social work & the legal system ; the attorney's role & responsibilities, 2003. New York, N.Y.: Practising Law Institute, 2003. Print.
Public hearing before Assembly Labor Committee on A-585 (proposes various amendments to the Employer-Employee Relations Act): held December 14, 1982, Rutgers Labor Education Center, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey.. Trenton, N.J.: The Committee, 2002. Print.